'A Portrait of the Fan Editor as a Child, Part 2' closing 
  comments by Rich Lynch; title illo by Sheryl Birkhead It has been my pleasure, in the nearly two decades I've been involved with science fiction fandom, to have met hundreds of others of you, either in person or in print. With you, my friends, I have enjoyed and experienced many good times, ranging from dinner expeditions, to sporting events, to sightseeing.

But now, I'm going to do something different. In fact, I'm about to do something I rarely ever do. I'm going to tell you about myself.

I'm not very comfortable about doing this. I can't really think of anything about me that anybody would find all that interesting, and I don't like the thought of being considered a bore or a windbag. That's made me a pretty good conversation manipulator. When I'm talking with you, I always gently and subtly try to steer the topic away from myself, and can usually get you to talk about yourself. I usually find out a lot about you, but not you about me, because you've done most of the talking and I've done the listening.

So let me tell you a few things about me that you probably didn't know; maybe I can answer a few questions you haven't been able to ask, starting with: No, I'm not an only child. I have two older sisters, and a younger brother and sister. No, none of them have ever been involved with science fiction fandom (though they all know that I am), and yes, both my older sisters bullied me mercilessly when I was just a little kid.

But this essay is supposed to keep with our 'food' theme, isn't it? Well okay, then, my very first memory has to do with food -- I can remember, very clearly, sitting on my grandfather's lap while he fed me a piece of bread that had the crusts cut off. And many of my most vivid childhood memories, in fact, involve food. For instance, there was The Night the Dessert Went Wrong...

It was a warm summer evening, and I had been looking forward to strawberry shortcake, which back then was just about my favorite dessert in the whole wide world. This night, though, was to be different -- this night I was judged to finally be Big Enough to spray my own whipped-cream topping from the can on my own dessert, much to my delight (and much to the envy of my younger brother, who was seated just to my left at the kitchen table).

The spray topping was in one of those pressurized cans that were so popular in the late `50s and early `60s; to get the whipped cream out, you had bend the long nozzle with your finger to release some of the pressure with some of the can's contents. Well, this looked pretty easy to me, but I was still given a stern warning to BE CAREFUL! If I made a mess, there would be *NO* television time for me later in the evening!

Well, fine! I could be careful if I needed to be. So, after vigorously shaking the can under watchful approval, I carefully pointed the nozzle towards the top of the shortcake, sighting along the side of the can to make sure the nozzle was aimed right at the exact center of the plate. But then anxiety set in -- I couldn't wait any longer to get the topping onto my dessert. So instead of carefully bending the nozzle to carefully let out some of the whipped cream onto the short cake, I jammed it as hard as I could, and the nozzle bent sharply to the left.

The whipped cream flew out from the nozzle like a rocket exhaust, and with a noise to match. It missed the shortcake entirely, traveling on a trajectory that would take it to the next town if something didn't get in the way. Something did. Cringing, and with a great feeling of dread, I slowly turned my head to the left and saw that...

...I had scored a direct hit on my brother's face. With an open-mouth look of great astonishment, he was wiping whipped cream out of his eyes with his index finger, wondering what-in-the-world had happened. That expression on his face is burned into my memory for all time. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the rest of the evening fades into the background noise of lost memories. I did ask my mother about it not too long ago, but she had great difficulty keeping a straight face as she recalled that evening...

Hm... I think I'd better stop this walk down memory lane, before I incriminate myself any further, so here's where we turn things back to you, our readers. We look forward to your letters of comment. Meanwhile, I can't promise that I'll talk too much about myself in the future, but if you write us, I do make you this guarantee:

You talk, and I'll listen.

Title illustration by Sheryl Birkhead

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